The Meaning of Jeremiah 2:13 Explained

Jeremiah 2:13

KJV: For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

YLT: For two evils hath My people done, Me they have forsaken, a fountain of living waters, To hew out for themselves wells -- broken wells, That contain not the waters.

Darby: For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew them out cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water.

ASV: For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

What does Jeremiah 2:13 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The Israelites had committed two evils: one a sin of omission, and the other a sin of commission. They had forsaken Yahweh who, like a fountain, had provided for their deepest needs (cf. Psalm 36:9; John 4:10-14; Revelation 21:6). And they had pursued idols who, like broken cisterns, could not even hold water-much less provide it. The most reliable source of water in Israel was a natural spring, and the least reliable was a cistern.
"The best cisterns, even those in solid rock, are strangely liable to crack, and are a most unreliable source of supply of that absolutely indispensable article, water; and if, by constant care, they are made to hold, yet the water, collected from clay roofs or from marly soil, has the color of weak soapsuds, the taste of the earth or the stable, is full of worms, and in the hour of greatest need it utterly fails. Who but a fool positive, or one gone mad in love of filth, would exchange the sweet, wholesome stream of a living fountain for such an uncertain compound of nastiness and vermin!" [1]

Chapter Summary: Jeremiah 2

1  God having shown his former kindness,
5  expostulates with the people on their causeless and unexampled revolt
14  They are the causes of their own calamities
18  The sins and idolatries of Judah
35  Her confidence is rejected

What do the individual words in Jeremiah 2:13 mean?

For two evils have committed My people Me they have forsaken the fountain of waters living [And] hewn themselves cisterns cisterns broken that no can hold water
כִּֽי־ שְׁתַּ֥יִם רָע֖וֹת עָשָׂ֣ה עַמִּ֑י אֹתִ֨י עָזְב֜וּ מְק֣וֹר ׀ מַ֣יִם חַיִּ֗ים לַחְצֹ֤ב לָהֶם֙ בֹּאר֔וֹת בֹּארֹת֙ נִשְׁבָּרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־ יָכִ֖לוּ הַמָּֽיִם

שְׁתַּ֥יִם  two 
Parse: Number, fd
Root: שְׁנַיִם  
Sense: two.
רָע֖וֹת  evils 
Parse: Noun, feminine plural
Root: רַע 
Sense: bad, evil.
עָשָׂ֣ה  have  committed 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: עָשָׂה 
Sense: to do, fashion, accomplish, make.
עַמִּ֑י  My  people 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: עַם 
Sense: nation, people.
אֹתִ֨י  Me 
Parse: Direct object marker, first person common singular
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
עָזְב֜וּ  they  have  forsaken 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: עָזַב 
Sense: to leave, loose, forsake.
מְק֣וֹר ׀  the  fountain 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: מָקֹור  
Sense: spring, fountain.
מַ֣יִם  of  waters 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: מַיִם  
Sense: water, waters.
חַיִּ֗ים  living 
Parse: Adjective, masculine plural
Root: חַי 
Sense: living, alive.
לַחְצֹ֤ב  [And]  hewn 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: חָצֵב 
Sense: to dig, cleave, divide, hew, make, cut out, dig out, cut down, quarry, hewer, mason.
לָהֶם֙  themselves 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
בֹּאר֔וֹת  cisterns 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: בֹּאר  
Sense: cistern, pit, well.
בֹּארֹת֙  cisterns 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: בֹּאר  
Sense: cistern, pit, well.
נִשְׁבָּרִ֔ים  broken 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: שָׁבוּר 
Sense: to break, break in pieces.
אֲשֶׁ֥ר  that 
Parse: Pronoun, relative
Root: אֲשֶׁר 
Sense: (relative part.).
לֹא־  no 
Parse: Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
יָכִ֖לוּ  can  hold 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: כּוּל  
Sense: to seize, contain, measure.
הַמָּֽיִם  water 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: מַיִם  
Sense: water, waters.